Puppy Training

People have commented to me over the years about how well behaved and trained my dogs are.  They always want to know what class I took them to, what my trick is or comment how lucky I am to have smart dogs.  I tell them it really wasn’t any of that.  Yes, I did take them to a puppy class, yes they are Labradors and very intelligent and yes, I did carefully research and looked for a top-notch person who produced Labradors to better the breed, not for selling puppies.

But what it really comes down to is I took the time every day to work with each puppy I brought home and realized it was a full time commitment.  I read a ton of books and as the dogs grew-up and we did various classes and training that helped me learn about dog training and socialized them.

When I would bring a puppy home I would give them a new crate with a comfortable pad inside and an old t-shirt that I left with the breeder that had spent time with their litter mates and mother.  I would also spend the first few nights sleeping near the puppy and crate which made it easy for the puppies 3am bathroom stop and it new I was nearby.

I start by keeping the puppy in its crate and when first letting it out immediately taking it outside for a bathroom break.  As I carried the pup to the door I would say “outside”  and when I put it on the ground I would say “bathroom”.  I would let it sniff around and I would repeat the word “bathroom” every so often until the pup did its business.  That achieved I would woop it up and let it know what a good puppy it was.   I figure my neighbors thought I was nuts when they heard me talking in a happy voice and congratulating the pup for going to the bathroom.

Having achieved a bladder empty puppy now was the time I would get on the floor and play with it paying full attention to the puppy.  If I tossed a toy for it to chase after and hopefully retrieve, I would add the word “fetch” as the pup would pick it up and as it walked back to me I would say “heel”.  Once back to me I happily said “good puppy” or in the case of my male Labrador “good boy” and my females “good girl”.  These play/learning sessions might only last 15 to 30 minutes and then it was back outside for another bathroom break and most likely a nap inside their crate.

I teach, “sit”, “down” and “heel” using treats and positive reinforcement.  I worked with a trainer who didn’t teach “stay” and explained it to me as why add an extra word to sit and stay when don’t you want them to stay when they sit or down?  It should be a given that they stay when doing those things.

I use short training times was teaching a puppy sit and stay.  In the evening while watching TV, during a commercial is the perfect time.  Training doesn’t need to be a long drawn out event.  A few sits, a few downs and that is enough.  Hey one or two successful good sits in a row is fine for a young puppy to do.  Repetition is the key during the day.  Lots of short, successful training sessions are better than one long one in which the pup will get bored, tired and quit on you.

Good luck with your puppy!